The funding will allow the creation of a feasibility study, small-scale laboratory testing and the construction of a pilot plant to develop and monitor the performance of the system.
"Aquaponics farming is an exciting and developing sector of aquaculture which provides an opportunity to save our environment along with providing high-quality local food products like fish and vegetables. The method requires 85% less water than traditional agricultural and fish farming practices, and the fish and plants are raised in a controlled environment," says project specialist Faiqa Atique, of the Institute of Bioeconomy, in a press release.
So far, the project has produced rainbow trout, mint and spinach, and the researchers have been mainly focusing on water quality, fish growth, plant growth, system maintenance and reducing the environmental load of nutrients. The third phase of the project, from 2022, aims to at scale up the aquaponics system to create a profitable, environmentally friendly and innovative business model for rural areas, where old or abandoned agricultural facilities could be harnessed for new business development.
“Climate change is affecting the yield of agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries. Conventional fish farming needs large quantities of water and can cause water pollution. Aquaponics is a promising method in overcoming these challenges: it offers an alternative protein and crop production method while minimizing the environmental impact, doesn’t depend on seasonality and doesn’t require soil occupation,” explains the EU’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.